Friends or Lovers? Part 3
Kane pulled his cloak tightly around his shoulders, trying to block out the cold night air as he hurried around the town, searching for those familiar red robes. Edwin had only had a slight start on him, a minute or two at most, and yet in that time the wizard seemed to have completely disappeared. Unless he was looking in the wrong place, unless Edwin wasn’t in the town. The warrior paused for a moment, dwelling on that thought and beginning to grow slightly worried.
He didn’t think that the wizard would have been foolish enough to leave the town alone, knowing very well of the goblins, wolves and gnolls that occupied the surrounding forest, but then he had been angry and upset and Kane knew that even intelligent people did not always think straight when they were in that sort of mood.
It’s my fault he’s so upset, I should have told Viconia and Kagain to shut their mouths and stop provoking him. But how was I supposed to know that he was going to get all upset instead of just insulting them back? It’s just not like him to react like that. He’s been acting so oddly recently, I wish I knew what was going on with him.
“Edwin!” he called loudly, though he was starting to believe that his efforts were useless. “Edwin!”
“Hey!” A lone man who had been leaning against a house wall, suddenly glanced up. “You wouldn’t be looking for a wizard by any chance? A skinny fellow, dressed in long red robes? Wearing all these," he waved his hands around in the air aimlessly, "gold rings and a funny amulet?”
“That’s exactly who I’m looking for.” Kane said at once, almost before the man had even finished speaking. He had obviously had too much to drink, but any lead was better than none. “Did you see where he went?”
“Aye I did,” the man gestured towards the edge of the town. “He came storming past me, muttering under his breath with this really angry look on his face. He went west into the woods towards that big, creepy tower. I really hope that he’s well armed…”
“How long ago was this?” the warrior interrupted impatiently.
“About ten minutes ago, I suppose,” the man shrugged. “I did try to warn him, but…” he trailed off and shook his head. Kane nodded his thanks and hurried off, knowing that he didn’t have much time. The woods were a dangerous place, especially at night, and he had to get to Edwin before something else did.
Kane was useless at following tracks, even in the daylight, and the thick darkness made it even more difficult. Instead he just kept up an almost steady trail west, moving as fast as the tall grass and the tree branches would allow him and listening hard all the while for any movement that might indicate that monsters were around. Howling soon reached his ears; there was a wolf pack on the move somewhere close by. And then the grunting and growling of gnolls came just a moment or so later. The foul beasts had found a target and Kane was willing to bet that it wasn’t an animal they were after.
With the amount of noise they were making, it wasn’t difficult for the warrior to follow the sound to a small clearing just a short way away. The first thing he noticed were Edwin’s red robes; which were pretty hard to miss in the darkness and were probably what had attracted the monsters in the first place, Kane guessed. The second thing that caught his attention was the pack of gnolls surrounding the wizard. They weren’t attacking him yet, merely closing in on him while he was slowly backing away, holding his staff up in front of him in an attempt to keep them off, though he knew well that it would offer little protection should they decide to attack.
Kane knelt in the grass for a moment, watching the beasts move and trying to decide what the best action to take would be. To go directly into combat would be dangerous, for him and for Edwin, and he couldn’t use his bow because of his injured hand, but somehow he had to draw their attention away from the wizard. Not taking his eyes from them, he reached for one of the two enchanted daggers he had hidden about his person. From a hidden pocket in his tunic he drew out a small bottle, orange in colour and warm to the touch. A plan was forming in his mind…all he had to wait for now was the right time to strike. If he judged the distance wrong and threw the bottle down in the wrong place, it would catch Edwin too.
As the wizard froze, his back against the tree and able to back away no further, Kane saw his chance. He threw the potion onto the ground as hard as he could and it exploded before the gnolls could react. It only caught two of them in its flames, and they gave a hideous cry as the flames consumed them before falling to the ground, dead and horribly burnt, but that was all the warrior had been aiming for. Angrily, the remaining gnolls turned their attention from Edwin to the one who had dared to attack them. Another fell without warning as Kane’s dagger slammed into his neck, then the Bhaalspawn himself came out from the trees, drawing one of his swords, ready to meet them. Snarling loudly, they came at him from all sides and it was all he could do to keep them off. He was tired and injured and outnumbered eight to one. He had to move fast to avoid the swinging axes and snapping jaws that were coming from in front, behind and from both sides too. He took the head off one and sliced through the stomach of another, knocked a couple of axes away and got hit on the shoulder as he ducked away from a blow. It stung, but he didn’t let it slow him down.
Meanwhile Edwin was running through all of the spells he knew, trying to think of one he could use to help. Cloudkill and fireball were useless, he couldn’t use them without hurting Kane too, and all of his magic missiles, flame arrows and the like had been used up in the battle they had fought earlier that day. He didn’t even have any monster summoning spells left. The wizard heard Kane give a startled cry as he was knocked backwards and felt a sudden burst of anger. Suddenly he remembered something his teacher had once told him, about the best spell to use in a situation not always being the obvious one, and was struck with an idea. Quickly he began to chant and soon a wave of sparks shot from his fingers and covered the gnolls. As it touched them, many of the beasts left Kane alone and began wandering around aimlessly, looking rather confused. Some of them also began fighting one another.
“Not bad, Edwin.” Kane called over, as he ran his sword through another gnoll. “Let’s see if we can’t finish them before the spell wears off.”
Much to the wizard’s surprise, his leader also began to chant the words of a spell, Edwin recognised it from his studies as being ghoul touch, as he reached out to touch a confused gnoll. The monster gave a cry and collapsed as its life was steadily drained. Kane smiled faintly at the shocked look on Edwin’s face as he raised his sword to block an attack from behind.
Although they were also ambushed by a group of skeletons, who had been drawn by the sounds of the battle, the monsters fell quickly, some burnt by one of Edwin’s fireball spells and the others impaled on Kane’s sword. When they were all dead, the warrior retrieved his dagger, rubbed absently at his bruised shoulder and looked hard at Edwin for a long moment, his expression blank. The wizard’s robes were torn in a couple of places and he had a fair few scratches from the darts thrown by the skeletons and Kane was once more soaked in blood, his own and that of the monsters. Edwin looked back at him, his head held high, although not able to meet his leader’s eyes, as he wondered what the Bhaalspawn warrior was going to have to say to him this time…
Friends or Lovers? Part 3
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